Engaging Sociology: Fracking in the UK

By Dr. Matthew Ogilvie

For the last three months the Sociology Programme has been working towards our Public Debate on Fracking in the UK to be held in Augustine House on 19th November between 7.30 to 9.30pm. This debate is part of the Programme’s ‘Engaging Sociology’ initiative, an approach to sociology that seeks to make the discipline accessible, useful and practical. We are confident this debate will be all these things.

engaging sociology

The debate will take place in Augustine Hall within Augustine House, a 400 capacity venue that we are hoping to fill. Tickets have been flying off the shelf, so this seems like a realistic target. If you haven’t yet bought your tickets please do so at: http://shop.canterbury.ac.uk/browse/searchresults.asp

Wednesday’s debate brings together notable experts and campaigners to publicly discuss the process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Fracking is a technique that involves using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture rock to extract oil and gas. Given its potential to tap vast quantities of as yet unexploited fossil fuel reserves worldwide, including in the UK, fracking is an issue of national and international significance. However, though this method has the potential to deliver significant amounts of fossil fuels, not least from onshore drilling, it is a highly contentious technology. Its supporters say it can be safely regulated. Its detractors say it is harmful to the environment and human health.

In addition to national and international significance, fracking also has local and regional relevance, with exploration licences being held in the South East and East Kent and planning permission either secured or being sought in these areas. Given this, it is understandable why that the debate has generated significant local interest, though it is also worth noting that people are travelling from as far afield as France and the North of England to attend.

Before the event begins we would like to express our gratitude to our panellists, who have freely given their time to participate in the debate. These are: Ian Driver; Mike Hill; Nick Riley; David Smythe; Paul Stevens; Julie Wassmer; and Gerwyn Williams. A biography of each panellist can be found at: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/social-and-applied-sciences/psychology-politics-and-sociology/docs/fracking-debate-speaker-bios.pdf

We would also like to thank our colleagues working in other areas of the University, from marketing to print and design to ticket sales, whose hard work has contributed to making the event happen. A special thanks also to John McGhie and his film crew for agreeing to film the event.

On Wednesday 12th, we met up with sound engineers, the film crew, and members of the events team to finalise plans, double-check arrangements and set the hall up. This mini-dress rehearsal went without any major hitches, though could not have happened without a dedicated and patient team of student volunteers, who helped out on two separate occasions on the day. Our fantastic students can be seen taking part in the sound check above. In the top left hand picture from left to right, they are: Charlotte Gooch-Draper; Danica Driman; Hannah Nash; and Alexander Waymark.

We are all very much looking forward to this event. It should be an informative, interesting and scintillating night. We hope to see you there. The Sociology Team, CCCU.



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